, Volume 187, Issue 10, pp 785-791

Interaction of vibrational and visual cues in parasitoid host location

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Abstract.

Female parasitoids are guided by multisensory information during host finding. Individual cues are used in an interactive or a hierarchical manner according to the relative importance on the spatial scale of their effect. Unlike most studies that concentrate on single cues, the present paper investigates the interaction of two physical cues. The interaction of mechanosensory and visual cues was studied in the pupal parasitoid Pimpla turionellae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae). This species uses, amongst other senses, vibrational sounding (echolocation in a solid substrate) to find its mainly endophytic hosts. Location and frequency of ovipositor insertions were scored on cylindrical plant stem models with single or combined cues. Single-cue experiments show that parasitoids use both visual and mechanosensory cues and achieve a similar precision of host location with either cue. The combination of vision and vibrational sounding increased the precision of host location by a factor of approximately two to three. We conclude that the two senses interact, resulting in an additive accuracy. Neither the visual nor the mechanosensory cue was favored when offered adjacent to each other on the same stem model. On the investigated spatial scale, both physical cues are used and seem to be equally important for host location in this species.

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